Africa Day 2021: Reflections On The Imperative of Unity for Empowerment

Kwame Nkrumah

Nkrumah makes his impassioned speech. Photo: Facebook.

[Pan-African Commentary]

As we commemorate Africa liberation day on May 25, it is a stark reminder to Africa that instead of celebrating the day, it is a day of mourning as Africa is still a far cry from being liberated. 

Africa is bleeding from neo-colonialism, endless wars and grinding poverty. Africa has become the Fanonian “wretched of the earth”. The economic system of capitalism is deeply entrenched and it is perpetuating oppression and exploitation of the motherland.

There are countries in Africa such as Rwanda and Namibia which are being celebrated as “good economic models” for Africa with impeccable GDP’s relative to the rest according to the World Bank and IMF reports. There had been reports that Africa is on the “rise” but the question is, in whose interests whilst the gap between the poor and the rich is yawning? Africa’s natural resources are being rapaciously plundered by multinational corporations for the benefit of their nations. China has joined the bandwagon of this exploitative crusade at the invitation and permission from African governments.

The biggest question is why Africa is so poor when it is rich in world’s strategic, minerals? Africa can reverse this by uniting. African unity has been elusive since the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on May 25 1963. Things have not fared much better since the OAU was succeeded by the African Union (AU) in 2002. 

Ghana became independent in 1957 under the guidance of our Pan Africanist luminary Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, and he said Ghana’s independence was meaningless until the rest of Africa is liberated. Nkrumah fought very hard by supporting politically and militarily most liberation movements in Africa. He spearheaded the formation of OAU and most African countries started to gain their political independence.

This independence was cosmetic in that all levers of the means of production remained in the hands of our erstwhile colonizers. Nation-state independence rendered most of African countries vulnerable to imperialist aggression and onslaught. One by one radical African leaders who stood in the way of imperial interests were deposed or assassinated. Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah became one of the victims of a CIA inspired coup detat. He was pushing for a United State of Africa under one command, with one army, and one currency. Sadly other prominent leaders, including the late Julius Kambarage Nyerere of Tanzania opposed Nkrumah’s call for immediate unity. Nyerere, to his credit, later acknowledged his error and apologized long after Nkrumah had died. 

It’s been 10 years since another great African leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was murdered, joining a long list of revolutionaries martyred by the West for pushing and advancing the agenda of continental African independence, unity and liberation. Colonel Gaddafi’s crime was that he was spearheading attempts to unite Africa. He was committing Libya’s oil wealth to make this dream a reality. This agenda sent shockwaves as African unity would jeopardize Western interests. The other twin factor is the rise of China on the international economic scene. This threatens Western monopoly over export markets and investment finance. The prospects for African unity, and the rise of China, present threats as never before to Western domination.

To counter this trend, the West makes sure that Africa remains in perpetual state of war. Parts of Africa are battleground. Some countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have never witnessed peace since independence in the 1960s.

One great son of Africa who was emphatic about African unity and security was Amilcar Cabral of Guinea Bissau. He taught us that: “We are for African unity, on a regional or continental scale in as far as it is necessary for the progress of the African peoples, and in order to guarantee their security and the continuity of this progress“. Cabral also warned us that: “The enemies of the African people are powerful and cunning and can always count on a few faithful lackeys in our country, since quislings are not a European privilege”.

Ghana’s Nkrumah on May 24, 1963 at the founding of the OAU, in front of 31 African heads of state in Addis Ababa appealed, cajoled, and did everything in perhaps his greatest speech ever to convince his comrades to create a strong continental union immediately. Sadly, they decided otherwise. Part of his speech read, “On this continent, it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence. Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs, to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist control and interference…” He went on to say that “…the unity of our continent, no less than our separate independence, will be delayed if indeed we do not lose it, by hobnobbing with colonialism. African unity is above all, a political kingdom which can only be gained by political means. The social and economic development of Africa will come only within the political kingdom, not the other way round”.  Nkrumah implored Africans leaders declaring that “we must unite now or perish.”

The CIA and other western intelligence organizations have funded and trained terrorist organizations to spread terror in Africa in order to prevent Africa from becoming a competitive global power. Today’s destructive forces include Boko Haram, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, ISIS, Mali’s Ansar Dine, and literally dozens of others. There have been numerous terror attacks including those in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameron, Central African Republic, Chad, and Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Tunisia. The private military groups are active in several conflict zones on African soil. Northern Mozambique is the latest case because of rich oil and natural gas fields.

The U.S. financed the groups that toppled Gaddafi—and became ISIS. They funded Shiites to topple Saddam Hussein for oil, and they funded Shiites in Afghanistan for an oil pipeline plus military bases. The US wants oil in Mozambique and to build a military base there. In Zimbabwe, they have built the biggest embassy in Africa just because of vast oil reserves discovered in Muzarabani, Zimbabwe. 

Muzarabani is said to hold some of the largest inland deposits of gas and potentially oil outside the Taoudai Basin. That is the reason why they want the Zimbabwe government led by ZANU PF out of the way, by maintaining sanctions in hope that a more pliant government takes over. At the location where Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Mozambique geographically meet, there is a small area called Kanyemba where vast uranium deposits were discovered.

According the Conservation, “currently, the US has 7000 military personnel on rotational deployments in Africa. These troops carry out joint operations with African forces against extremists or jihadists. They are hosted in military outposts across the continent including Uganda, South Sudan, Somalia , Niger, Gabon, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and the DRC”. The Conservation also reports, “In addition, 2000 American soldiers are involved in training missions in 40 African countries. America Special Forces operate across east Africa so called forward operations locations in Kenya and Somalia”.

In Africa we still have outstanding colonial outposts in Western Sahara, the Comoros and Diego Garcia. This shows that the tasks of Pan-African liberation is incomplete. The biggest threat to African unity now is the AFRICOM, which many Africans see as another attempt to recolonize Africa. Netfa Freeman, a member of the Black Alliance for Peace Coordinating Committee concurs says, “Today, U.S. bases as well as military to military relations between 53 out of the 54 African countries and the United States characterize the aggressive strategy of the U.S. to preserve the interests of the Pan European, white supremacists colonial/capitalist project on the African continent. Africans must wake up and rise up against the militarization of Africa by the U.S., colonial state”. 

We must forge a powerful Pan-African resistance with support from anti-imperialist everywhere.

In Sudan and Chad, the Chinese have discovered vast amounts of oil but the region continues to face instability and coups caused by the U.S. and France. In the eastern coast of Kenya and Somalia, Al Shabab is terrorizing the East African region. Yet each of these countries have U.S. bases that can’t seem to end the terrorism. Africans don’t seem to learn that this is from the same playbook. You first deploy U.S. trained/sponsored Islamic extremists then after a series of atrocities send in the U.S. military. The U.S. military is a gangster in the service of capitalism.

Several of our African governments are hosting foreign military bases notwithstanding concerns about African Union on increased proliferation of foreign military bases on the continent. Approximately 13 foreign powers have a substantial military presence on the continent. The US and France have major presence and are conducting operation on Africa soil.

Why is the Mozambique government inviting the U.S. military advisers to support its own armed forces in fighting the terrorists? What is the role of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the AU in resolving the conflict? By inviting the imperialists are we not repeating or learning from the lessons of the DRC when Patrice Lumumba asked the United Nations peace keeping forces to enforce law and order and, instead, he was murdered under their watch? The U.N. colluded with Western power to kill Lumumba.

Zimbabwe has suffered a lot for two decades without any practical support from any African nation. There is no African unity; the support is only rhetoric. It was only recently when SADC declared a date for member states to march against sanctions in Zimbabwe. Sadly most of our Pan-African comrades and friends are buying into foreign media propaganda. They now believe that the issue of sanctions is an overplayed CD and that it only targets the ruling elite. That’s why it is important that as pan-Africanists we must have our own media outlets that tell our own stories. The global reactionary cooperate media is misleading people on the Zimbabwe question.

South African media which is mainly controlled by white people is on a crusade to demonize and vilify Zimbabwe. Critical institutions and means of production are still under agents of Apartheid. Up to this day, notwithstanding Zimbabwe’s reformist agenda post-Mugabe, the country is still subjected to a barrage of disinformation, propaganda and isolation. Zimbabwe is enacting the new Patriotic Act to punish those who collude and connive with foreign hostile governments to destabilize, destroy, and tarnish our national image

The U.S. foreign policy has not moved an inch as they continue to renew their sanctions on Zimbabwe every year. Zimbabwe has tried to make some concessions to appease western imperialism but nothing has changed. Western imperialism is not relenting in its efforts to subvert the constitutionally elected government of Zimbabwe. Most Africans fail to realize that the sanctions are meant to collectively punish the 16 million Zimbabweans for upsetting white economic interests. 

If sanctions succeeds in Zimbabwe, it will be a heavy blow to African liberation in as far as land expropriation is concerned. Zimbabwe returned to Africans land controlled by the descendants of Europeans who stole the land after violent conquest. Without land, Africans will continue to wallow in poverty. Zimbabwe’s land revolution inspired most people in the Global South countries. Demands for land reform were amplified in South Africa and Namibia. This torch which Zimbabwe ignited is slowly but surely being extinguished. 

That’s why African unity remains the only viable solution.

South Africa and other SADC nations actually benefit from sanctions on Zimbabwe. They gain by hiring cheap labor fleeing from Zimbabwe under economic duress. Zimbabwe imports most of its foodstuff from these countries because most multinational corporations producing the imports migrated to other Southern African countries.

White capital monopoly in South Africa deliberately mislead South Africans that “foreigners” are taking their jobs. They fan Afro-phobia where Africans turn against each other, maiming and killing each other. South Africa is sadly becoming Africa’s problem child. It was South Africa which voted in favor of the invasion of Libya, culminating in the murder of Gaddafi.  

South Africa hostile media was awash with news that Zimbabwe has become a hotspot in Africa for COVID – 19, yet Zimbabwe even up to this day has the lowest statistics compared to its regional counterparts. Zimbabwe was the first country to undertake voluntary vaccination programs using vaccines from China, India and Russia. Zimbabwe will also be one of the first countries which will receive vaccines from the revolutionary socialist country of Cuba. 

It seems that South Africa is being used as a front to delay African liberation. Maybe that is the reason why it does not have May 25 as a public holiday for African Liberation Day. The white community is even arrogant to the levels of burning police cars with impunity. White South Africans are untouchables. When Black South Africans picket, they are brutally dealt with by the police. The Marikana murder of mine workers was a good example. Brute force was unleashed on innocent workers to protect white monopoly capital interests. South Africa needs to decolonize the instruments of state from agents of Apartheid.

There are many factors that affect African unity when it comes to Zimbabwe’s fight against sanctions. Most African countries are propped up by colonial forces, which means that that who pays the piper calls the tune. Most African economies are indebted to the World Bank and IMF. Pliant countries benefit from debt forgiveness and others don’t. Zimbabwe had not been getting financial support from the World Bank and IMF for the past two decades. These financial institutions play a carrot-and-stick tactic to African governments. That’s why it’s important that Africa must fund its development through its own resources and create its own strong and robust financial institutions. Zimbabwe must start to focus on building internal capacity. Its leaders should look at cross investment with friendly countries to build its economy and production base.

Many African countries have bilateral trade agreements whereby they depend on the powerful countries for trade and if they are sanctioned they suffer equally. There is little trade amongst African nations especially with Zimbabwe and it’s easy to sacrifice Zimbabwe. Perhaps the newly inaugurated African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will boost trade amongst African countries thereby also benefitting Zimbabwe. Then there are corrupt Africans leaders who plunder from the country’s treasury and stash the funds in foreign banks. Fearing expose or seizure of the funds they would rather pay lip service to Zimbabwe.

Rutendo Matinyarare, a vocal activists of the Zimbabwe Unite Against Economic Sanctions organization says the U.S. Congress crafted a sanctions law specifically targeting Zimbabwe because the country threatened the colonial world order by daring to recover for Africans their stolen land from white settlers. The West even used their puppet opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to advance regime change.  Rutendo claims that in 2009, the Elders—Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, and Graca Machel)—made it clear Zimbabwe would face outside intervention unless ZANU PF entered into a government of national unity with MDC, and agreed to creation of a Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (COPAC) to draft the new Zimbabwean constitution.

COPAC was formed with the heavy influence of the U.N., western NGOs, the E.U., U.K., South African constitutional experts and the U.S. 

The constitution, written under Western coercion, established institutions designed to weaken ZANU-PF’s influence on policy, land reform, media freedoms, human rights, and electoral reforms. The U.S. and her allies were able to enshrine the compensation of white farmers for developments on the seized land—a form of reparations for ending colonialism. This approach creates precedence and legal custom for future South African land reform.

The departed revolutionary luminaries who repeatedly taught us that without African unity western imperialism will take us down one by one have been vindicated. 

If Africa unites as one political entity, it will be able compete economically with the advanced industrialized countries of the world. Without genuine African unity, our continent will remain at the mercy of imperialist domination and exploitation.   

Mafa is a Zimbabwean Pan-African. 

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